EpicentRx Word of the Week: ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)/MND (Motor Neuron Disease)

Aug 14, 2023

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Noun: A fatal motor neuron disease that involves gradual deterioration of voluntary muscle function. Symptoms include muscle weakness and paralysis, as well as difficulty to speak, swallow, and breathe. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is between 2 and 5 years.

Example sentence:

“Fight MND, a registered not-for-profit Australian Charity, has awarded a grant to study nibrozetone (RRx-001) in ALS/MND.”


Jean Martin Charcot (1825–1893), a French neurologist that originally described and diagnosed ALS coined the name amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS for short. It is called Charcot’s Disease in France, motor neurone disease (MND) in the United Kingdom, Australia and parts of Europe, and ALS in the United States, Canada, and South America.

In the United States, ALS is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the New York Yankee’s baseball legend, by all accounts a humble and selfless man, that was struck down with it in his prime. At his poignant farewell address to a full Yankee Stadium that Gary Cooper, portraying Lou Gehrig, re-enacted in the film, “The Pride of the Yankees”, Gehrig declared himself, despite knowing that he had but a short time left to live, “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Besides Gehrig, the person most closely associated with ALS is the astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, who died in 2018 after having defied the odds to live with it for an unheard-of 55 years.

“Amyotrophic” derives from the Greek and refers to atrophy or degeneration of the muscle fibers. “Lateral sclerosis” refers to the hardness of the lateral columns of the spinal cord because of gliosis or scar tissue formation.